Establishing public sector organizations to assist smaller manufacturers is not an effective means of improving the competitiveness of manufacturing in the United States. Sufficient private sector resources are available to smaller manufacturers that are willing to make the commitments necessary for improving their competitive capabilities. These include, but are not limited to:
suppliers that are happy to demonstrate their new machines, products, or technologies and teach buyers to use them;
customers, particularly larger ones, are more and more demanding of high quality and will assist suppliers in various forms of quality improvement. Even the second and third tier of suppliers are influenced by the quality requirements of the subcontractors so that one large customer can influence hundreds of smaller supplier firms.
industry groups, such as the thousands of trade associations in the United States, sponsor seminars and meetings to discuss problems unique to their industry and to educate their members;
consultants, in addition to large consulting firms such as Arthur Anderson and McKinsey, there are thousands of very small firms with modest costs but great expertise;
universities and community colleges, besides working directly with companies, also furnish individuals who provide direct consulting services, hold seminars and classes, and offer other forms of assistance to smaller firms;
published materials, as a source of information about new activities, already exceed the time business people have available to read and digest; about the last thing they need is to receive more of these mailings.
special business groups, such as the Young Presidents' Organization, disseminate considerable information to smaller businesses; and
professional societies such as the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and so forth.
The Manufacturing Technology Centers (MTCs) have not proven their ability to substantially influence the overall competitive performance of U.S. industry. There is a dearth of metrics for properly evaluating the success of this and other federal and state funding spent to date. The MTCs are a series of small-scale experiments investigating